Toru Takahashi/Associated Press
Jason Catania: Jose Abreu and Robinson Cano
Joe Giglio: Prince Fielder and Masahiro Tanaka
Jason Martinez: Joe Nathan and Peter Bourjos
Mike Rosenbaum: Brian McCann and Curtis Granderson
Zachary D. Rymer: Mike Morse and Masahiro Tanaka
Adam Wells: Robinson Cano and Masahiro Tanaka
Why all the hate for Masahiro Tanaka?
For Giglio and Wells, it's a matter of hype. After the Yankees spent $175 million to acquire the ace Japanese right-hander, Giglio says Tanaka "can't possibly do anything but disappoint." Wells agrees, saying that Tanaka will have to "pitch like Cy Young whenever he takes the mound to avoid hearing questions about what’s wrong with him."
I think Tanaka will be fine eventually, but I need to see him make a key adjustment. ESPN's Keith Law (subscription required) noted that Tanaka tends to pitch up in the zone with his fastball. That's a habit that won't fly as well in the majors, and he'll learn that the hard way.
Regarding Catania's and Wells' disagreement over Cano, both are approaching his situation from a hype perspective as well. Given where Seattle's offense has been in recent years, Wells thinks an elite hitter like Cano can only be a welcome sight. Catania, however, fears Cano will quickly become a "scapegoat" as it becomes apparent that Seattle's offense still has some serious holes in it.
On the flip side, Rosenbaum noted that Brian McCann is walking into a different situation with the Yankees:
Yankees catchers batted a dismal .213/.289/.298 with eight home runs last season. McCann, a six-time All-Star, has been on one of the most productive backstops since reaching the major leagues in 2005, with a career .823 OPS and 20-plus home runs in each of the last six seasons. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is poised to make an immediate impact batting in the heart of the Yankees’ vastly improved lineup.
Martinez was quick to point out that Joe Nathan is walking into a similar situation in Detroit:
It will become apparent right away that a Tigers lead will be in safe hands in the ninth inning, which will be a welcome feeling for everyone—players, coaches, management and fanbase—that has suffered through late-season bullpen collapses in consecutive seasons.
Meanwhile in St. Louis, however, Martinez isn't sold on Peter Bourjos being the answer for the Cardinals in center field:
Stellar defense is what makes Bourjos valuable. But if he gets off to a slow start, which wouldn't be a surprise considering he only played 55 games in 2013 due to injury, Cardinals fans could get restless.
Likewise, Rosenbaum explained why he doesn't see Granderson solving any problems in New York. He sees an outfielder who's clearly on the decline:
Granderson’s overall production has steadily declined since his monster 2011 season with the Yankees, when he batted .262/.364/.552 with 41 home runs and 25 stolen bases. He did hit a career-high 43 home runs the following year, but his power-oriented approach cost him over 100 points in OPS. Injuries limited the 32-year-old to only 61 games in 2013 and prevented him from tapping into his power once finally healthy. So don’t read too far into his seven home runs in 245 plate appearances.
As for the three remaining strongest impressions, here's Catania on Jose Abreu:
This is both a figurative and literal choice for strongest impression, as Abreu, who put up video-game numbers in his native country, could become MLB’s next Cuban star—following Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Fernandez.
And Giglio on Prince Fielder:
Freed from the weight of expectations and October failures in Detroit, he's poised to resurrect a path to Cooperstown in Texas. Upon Fielder's first batting practice laser show, the Rangers will be talking about him as the bat to finally replace Josh Hamilton's left-handed power in the lineup.
Speaking of spring training laser shows, that's mainly why I tabbed Mike Morse. He's been a spring training superstar before, slugging nine spring homers in 2011 and 2013. Plus, nobody ever accused the guy of being unable to put on a batting practice display.